It will take quite some time for people to accept Prime Minister rendra Modi’s recent statement abroad that in India there is zero tolerance of corruption and black money. It is ironical that this statement should have been made at a time when there were strong reactions to the growing intolerance in India both within the country and abroad. But here was a welcome kind of intolerance just as intolerance of inefficiency, waste, hypocrisy and a host of other evils are as welcome as intolerance of corruption and black money. However, it will certainly take some time for zero tolerance of corruption and black money to become visible. After all, there is such a close connection between the two. And since our all-pervasive corruption cannot be made to disappear overnight as though with the waving of a magic wand, we must learn to wait and watch.
Meanwhile, two developments have taken place. The first is that India has frozen assets worth Euro 3 lakh (equal to over Rs. 2.12 crore) of over 36 entities on charges of terrorist fincing and money laundering. We are not yet aware of whether the government has been selective about going primarily for accounts that have been used for funding terrorist activities and accounts that have also been created through money laundering. After all, an amount of Euro 3 lakh is chicken feed in the contest of the total black money of Indians held in foreign accounts. While no one (perhaps not even the government) can have a fairly reliable estimate of the black money held by Indians abroad, one very conservative estimate is that it could not be anything less than Rs. 400,000 crore. Rs. 2.12 crore or Euro 3 lakh is an insignificant fraction of the total sum of Rs. 400,000 crore. Since this welcome operation of unearthing black money stashed abroad has been launched, it must be carried on relentlessly to include the big cats in the game. Even talking about the insignificant of Rs. 2.12 crore sounds somewhat like a poor joke. What is even more important is to identify those who divert a part of this black money to promote terrorist activities. This is particularly important in the context of Assam, since a huge part of the colossal leakage of sales tax revenue that takes place at the major check gates of Assam has been going to our homegrown terrorist groups for decades. That is why the increase in the sales tax revenue via the check gates has not been as spectacular as expected. This is the kind of corruption that has led to huge leakage of government revenue to terrorist groups (euphemistically called insurgent groups) with the knowledge and blessings of tax officials posted at the important check gates of Assam. This easy money finding its way to the coffers of terrorist groups has to be stopped if we entertain any serious hopes of containing terrorism.
The other important development is that Prime Minister rendra Modi has asked young IAS officers to develop immunity against the ‘viral’ of corruption and act as agents change to improve the lives of common people as the country needs to seize the ‘golden opportunity’ to attain new heights. This appeal is a clear admission of the fact that the Prime Minister is aware of the existing virus of corruption and its force, and is appealing to the bureaucrats of tomorrow to develop the immunity against corruption as a duty to the tion. This awareness and the call to develop the immunity against corruption is a token of his promise to being about zero tolerance of corruption. This is a far better stand compared to Indira Gandhi’s statement in Parliament many years ago that corruption was a universal phenomenon. Apart from the fact that this is not entirely true, Indira Gandhi’s statement constituted a sort of ratiolization of corruption rather than a statement of her resolve to combat corruption wholeheartedly for the sake of the coming generations.